McAdam: Red Sox look to make most of No. 7 pick

McAdam: Red Sox look to make most of No. 7 pick
June 6, 2013, 10:45 am
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To understand the significance of tonight's draft for the Red Sox, consider this: The amateur draft has been in place since 1965, and only once since 1967 have the Red Sox had a pick as high as the one they hold (No. 7) this season.
     
Not since 1993, when the Red Sox selected outfielder Trot Nixon, have the Sox selected this high.
     
The pick comes after the Sox finished in last place in the American League East and because they don't want or expect to be in this position again anytime soon, they plan to make the most of it.
     
"There's no guarantees in the draft," said general manager Ben Cherington, "and good players come from all parts of the draft. But if you look at it historically, the odds of getting a really good player are higher the higher you pick. It's an opportunity to chose from a different pool than we normally would and we've got to take advantage of that opportunity."
     
Cherington insisted the Red Sox haven't changed their approach or preparation despite the higher pick.
     
"We've just allocated more time to a pool of players," said Cherington, "that we might not have spent quite as much time on in previous years."
     
Over the last 10 years, for perspective, the following players have been chosen seventh overall: Clayton Kershaw (2006); Troy Tulowitzki (2005); and Nick Markakis (2003).
     
Go back further, and the No. 7 pick has been used on both Prince Fielder (2002) and Frank Thomas (1989).
     
In recent years, first-round picks have reached the major leagues earlier than ever before, often spending less than half a season in the minors before making their big league debuts.
     
Still, even with the quicker ascent, Cherington maintains that the Sox won't go for positional need.
     
"In any year, but particularly in this year, we're going to take the player that we think that impacts the organization the most," said Cherington. "Organizational needs or a player's position or anything like that won't come into play. We're looking for the best combination of upside and probability of reaching that upside."
     
So who might that player be?
     
The Sox have been linked to a handful of players, including two high school outfielders from Georgia -- Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows -- along with University of North Carolina third baseman Colin Moran and Indiana State lefty Sean Manaea.
     
One benefit to being as high in the first round is the opportunity to select a player with terrific raw power.
     
The Sox have drafted extremely well over the last decade, developing a number of home-grown All-Stars and highly-regarded prospects, but most of those selections have been either pitchers (Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon, Clay Buchholz) or athletic middle-of-the-field players (Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Jackie Bradley Jr., Deven Marrero).
     
But the Sox haven't been able to draft a player with plus power. In an era when PED testing has leveled off home run numbers across the board, finding raw power is more difficult than ever.
     
Former GM Theo Epstein used to lament that most of the top power prospects were off the board by the time the Red Sox got around to choosing (usually in the bottom third of the round). Thursday, the Sox may have a chance to remedy that, but Cherington vowed that wouldn't be a focus.
     
"We'd much rather get the best player than look for a particular strength or tool," said Cherington. "Power does tend to go quickly in the draft -- every year, not just this year. By virtue of the fact that we can look at a different pool of players, we don't know who's going to be there at seven, but we can look at a different pool of players, maybe that's a tool or a strength that we might have access to that we might not in a normal year.
     
"But we can't allow that to sort of overwhelm the rest of the conversation, we still have to line it all up and look at every aspect of each player, the strengths and weakness, whether they be a pitcher, a position player, high school, college. Weigh the upside and the risk and try to get it in right the order. There's no one particular tool or strength that carries the conversation."
     
One intriguing element to this draft is the presence of Eddie Bane, who joined the Red Sox last fall. Bane was the the scouting director of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim from 2004-2010 and is credited with scouting, among others, Mike Trout.
     
Considered one of the top talent evaluators in the game, Bane gives the Sox a different perspective.
     
"He's seen a lot of amateurs for us,'' said Red Sox scouting director Amiel Sawdaye. "He's worked a little bit as a mentor to me. He brings a (different) dynamic, not only in the draft room but throughout the year -- we have a lot of (evaluators) who are kind of homegrown . . . and sometimes in a while, you get stale. You all think very similarly and Eddie brings a little different dynamic to a room, which is nice.
     
"I think he's been great to work with and to work next to."
     
Together, the scouting department should get a crack at a player they seldom can even consider. Since they don't expect to be back in this position anytime soon, they want to make sure it's the right one.

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